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Review of tax calculation and settlement and 3. Review of tax calculation and settlement and of tax calculation and settlement and compliance with tax compliance with tax rules; compliance with tax rules; rules; 4. Acquisition of training, risk management 4.

Procurement of technical materials and consulting for a system implemented in a 4. Other services related to training, procurement of independent assessment of process of preparation subsidiary, diagnosis on the adequacy of internal technical materials and surveys; of prudential and financial reports. Review required by regulatory authorities on studies of impact of a new accounting standard. These responsibilities are formalized in the Audit Committee Regulations and in corporate policies.

Additional information on items 2. With respect to the service provider's period of service - The contracting will be in force until the end of the audit service and the issuance of the respective reports related to the base date of December 31 of the year in question.

If the issuer disclosed in the previous year or if it wishes to disclose in this form non-accounting measures such as EBITDA earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or EBIT earnings before interest and taxes , the issuer should: a Inform the value of non-accounting measures No non-accounting measures were disclosed in the previous year in our financial statements under IFRS. Identify and comment on any event subsequent to the most recent financial statements for the year that might significantly change them Acquisition of Ideal Holding Financeira S.

This purchase will be carried out in two phases over five years. The effective acquisitions and financial settlements will take place after the required regulatory approvals are obtained. In addition, we will contribute our commitment to provide funding for the current and future operations, credit expertise and the development of new products at TECHFIN.

The partnership creates a company that will combine technology and financial solutions, while adding the supplementary expertise of the shareholders to offer corporate clients, in an agile and integrated manner, the best experience in contracting products directly on the platforms already provided by TOTVS.

Describe the policy on allocation of earnings for the past three years, indicating: The Board of Directors submits to the Annual General Stockholders' Meeting, together with the financial statements, a proposal for the allocation of profit for the year. Its balance may also be used: in redemption, reimbursement or share buyback transactions, under current legislation; and in contribution to capital stock, including by means of new share bonus.

The balance of this reserve, added to the Legal Reserve, may not exceed capital stock, under the terms of Article of Law No. Rules on retention of No changes in the rules earnings a. Retained earnings No earnings retained amounts a. Percentages of total Not applicable declared earnings b. Frequency of Monthly-mandatory distribution of Half-yearly - additional dividends d.

In accordance with Brazilian Corporate Law please see item 3. Additionally, minimum mandatory dividends may not be paid in any year in which management informs the Annual General Stockholders' Meeting that this would be incompatible with the Issuer's financial position. For further information, please see item 3. On December 10, , a Material Fact was disclosed informing the payment of interest on capital in lieu of the monthly dividend for fiscal year In , no earnings were retained, and dividends paid by the Issuer were higher than minimum mandatory dividends please see item 3.

As resolved by the Board of Directors, interest on capital can be paid by including the interest on capital paid or credited to the mandatory dividend amount, as provided for in Article 9, paragraph 7, of Law No. After the payment of priority dividend 9.

The total amount to be distributed each year will be set by the Board of Directors, considering, among other factors: the Company's capitalization level, according to the rules issued by the Central Bank of Brazil; the minimum level, set by the Board of Directors, of Therefore, the percentage to be distributed may change every year according to Company's profitability and capital demands, considering at all times the minimum distribution set forth in the Bylaws.

This restriction on dividend payment will be progressively applied, according to the extent of nonconformity with additional capital requirements. At the end of December , BIS ratio reached These indicators provide evidence of our effective capacity of absorbing unexpected losses. Over the past three years, dividends were paid on a monthly basis, as set by our Stockholder Remuneration Policy, approved by the Board of Directors.

The date used as reference to determine which stockholders are entitled to receive these monthly dividends is determined based on the stockholding position recorded on the last day of the previous month, and dividends are paid on the first business day of the subsequent month. Additionally, over the past three years, additional dividends were also paid out half-yearly , for which the Board of Directors determines the base date for the stockholding position and payment date.

Regarding these half-yearly payments, management checks the existing profit, determines the dividend amounts to be distributed as mandatory please see item "a" above , calculates the monthly amount already declared and finally determines the outstanding balance payable of the minimum mandatory dividend.

This amount is declared as a dividend "additional" to those paid monthly. Additional information on item 3. Adjusted net income for dividend purposes 24, 18, 25, b. Total distributed dividends 6, 4, 18, Interest on capital 4, 2, 4, Mandatory dividend 1, 1, 14, Minimum priority dividend Fixed priority dividend --c. Percentage of dividends per adjusted net income Dividend distributed per class and type of shares: Total common shares 3, 2, 9, Interest on capital 2, 1, 2, Mandatory dividend 7, Minimum priority dividend --Fixed priority dividend --Total preferred shares 3, 2, 9, Interest on capital 2, 1, 2, Mandatory dividend 6, Minimum priority dividend Fixed priority dividend --e.

Return on equity Total retained earnings 19, 14, 7, Allocation to reserves 19, 14, 7, Retained earnings - h. In a table, please describe the issuer's debt ratio, indicating: sum of current and non-current liabilities; debt ratio current plus non-current liabilities, divided by stockholders' equity ; if the issuer so wishes, another debt ratio, indicating: the method used to calculate the ratio; the reason why the issuer understands that this ratio is appropriate for the correct understanding of its a.

Supply other information that the issuer may deem relevant The financial information presented in Item 3 Selected Financial Information adopts the IFRS accounting standard, except for items 3. RISK FACTORS-Describe risk factors Describe risk factors that may influence an investment decision, particularly those related to: This section addresses the risks we consider material to our business and an investment in our securities.

Should any of the following risks actually occur, our business and financial condition, as well as the value of any investments made in our securities, will be adversely affected. Accordingly, investors should carefully assess the risk factors described below and the information disclosed in this annual report before making an investment decision.

The risks described below are those that we currently believe may adversely affect us. Other risks that we do not presently consider material, emerging risks or risks not currently known to us may also adversely affect us. We routinely conduct transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including brokers and dealers, commercial banks, investment banks, mutual and hedge funds and other institutional clients.

Like most Brazilian banks, we also invest in debt securities issued by the Brazilian government. As of December 31, , approximately We may incur losses if any of our counterparties fail to meet their contractual obligations, due to bankruptcy, lack of liquidity, operational failure or other reasons that are exclusively attributable to our counterparties.

As an example, an eventual failure by the Brazilian government to make timely payments under the terms of these securities, or a significant decrease in their market value could negatively affect our results in two ways: directly, through portfolio losses, and indirectly, through instabilities that a default in public debt could cause to the banking system as a whole, particularly since commercial banks' exposure to government debt is high in countries in which we operate.

This counterparty risk may also arise from our entering into reinsurance agreements or credit agreements pursuant to which counterparties have obligations to make payments to us and are unable to do so, or from our carrying out transactions in the foreign currency market or other markets that fail to be settled at the specified time due to non-delivery by the counterparty, clearing house or other financial intermediary.

Their failure to meet their contractual obligations may adversely affect our financial performance. A downgrade of our ratings may adversely affect our funding cost, our access to capital and debt markets, our liquidity and, as a result, our competitiveposition. Credit ratings represent the opinions of independent rating agencies regarding our ability to repay our indebtedness, and affect the cost and other terms upon which we are able to obtain funding.

Each of the rating agencies reviews its ratings and rating methodologies on a periodic basis and may decide on a grade change at any time, based on factors that affect our financial strength, such as liquidity, capitalization, asset quality and profitability or due to a downgrade of the Brazilian sovereign rating.

Under the criteria utilized by the rating agencies, ratings assigned to Brazilian financial institutions, including to us are constrained by the grades assigned to the Brazilian sovereign. Events that are not subject to our control, such as economic or political crises, may lead to a downgrade of the Brazilian sovereign rating and a corresponding downgrade of the ratings assigned to us. Credit ratings are essential to our capability to raise capital and funding through the issuance of debt and to the cost of such financing.

A downgrade or a potential downgrade in our credit ratings could have an adverse impact on our operations, income and risk weighting. This may affect net earnings, capital requirements and return on capital levels, causing a negative impact on our competitive position. Additionally, if our credit ratings were to be downgraded, rating trigger clauses that may be part of our financing agreements with other institutions could result in an immediate need to deliver additional collateral to counterparties or taking other actions under some of our derivative contracts, adversely affecting our interest margins and results of operations.

Thus, a failure to maintain favorable ratings and outlooks can affect the cost and availability of our financing through the capital markets and other sources of financing, affecting our interest margins and capacity to operate. Changes or uncertainty in base interest rates could adversely affect us. In recent years, the SELIC rate, has fluctuated significantly reflecting the corresponding volatility in the macroeconomic scenario and inflationary environment. In the following years, as a result of the widespread decline in inflation, due to the high level of idle capacity in the Brazilian economy and anchored inflation expectations, the Central Bank started a monetary easing cycle and the COPOM has reduced the SELIC rate.

We may face challenges associated with IBOR transition. A significant portion of our income, expenses and liabilities is directly tied to interest rates. Therefore, our results of operations and financial condition are significantly affected by inflation, interest rate fluctuations and related government monetary policies. On March 5, , the U. This cessation of LIBOR for various currencies at the end of and in for certain tenors of USD LIBOR will also result in replacement rates being used more widely, including in the instruments documenting certain of our financial obligations.

For example, in the U. Many banks in the U. It is possible that some U. Central banks in several other jurisdictions have also announced plans for publishing alternative reference rates for other currencies. Moreover some U. In addition, in regulators encouraged financial firms to cease entering into new contracts that use of LIBOR as a reference rate as soon aspracticable and in any event by December 31, This and other reforms may cause IBORs to perform differently than in the past, or to disappear entirely, or have other consequences, which cannot be fully anticipated, which introduce a number of risks for us including legal risks arising from potential changes required to documentation for new and existing transactions, financial risks arising from any changes in the valuation of financial instruments linked to benchmark rates and hedging mismatch, pricing risks arising from how changes to benchmark indices could impact pricing mechanisms on some instruments, operational risks arising from the potential requirement to adapt information technology systems, trade reporting infrastructure and operational processes, and commercial risks arising from the potential Accordingly, the implementation of alternative benchmark rates may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects.

Operational risk factor We face risks relating to our operations. Operational risks, which may arise from errors in the performance of our processes, the conduct of our employees, instability, malfunction or outage of our IT system and infrastructure, or loss of business continuity, or comparable issues with respect to our vendors, may disrupt our businesses and lead to material losses.

We face operational risk arising from errors, accidental or premeditated, made in the execution, confirmation or settlement of transactions or from transactions not being properly recorded, evaluated or accounted for. The occurrence of any of these risks may adversely affect our business, financial results and reputations.

We are exposed to failures, deficiency or inadequacy of our internal processes, human error or misconduct and cyberattacks. Additionally, we rely on third-party services. All these factors may adversely affect us. Due to the high volume of daily processing, we are dependent on technology and management of information, which exposes us to eventual unavailability of systems and infrastructure such as power outages, interruption of telecommunication services, and generalized system failures, as well as internal and external events that may affect third parties with which we do business or that are crucial to our business activities including stock exchanges, clearing houses, financial dealers or service providers and events resulting from wider political or social issues, such as cyberattacks or unauthorized disclosures of personal information in our possession.

We manage and store certain proprietary information and sensitive or confidential data relating to identified or identifiable natural persons, including our clients and to our operations. We may be subject to breaches of the information technology systems we use for these purposes, as well as the theft of technology and intellectual property. Additionally, we operate in many geographic locations and are frequently subject to the occurrence of events outside of our control. Despite the contingency plans we have in place, our ability to conduct business in any of these locations may be adversely impacted by a disruption to the infrastructure that supports our business.

We are strongly dependent on technology and thus are vulnerable to viruses, worms and other malicious software, including "bugs" and other problems that could unexpectedly interfere with the operation of our systems and result in data leakage. Operating failures, including those that result from human error or fraud, not only increase our costs and cause losses, but may also give rise to conflicts with our clients, lawsuits, regulatory fines, sanctions, interventions, reimbursements and other indemnity costs.

Ethical misconduct and noncompliance - ethical misconduct or breaches of applicable laws by our businesses or our employees could be damaging to our reputation too, and could result in litigation, regulatory action and penalties. All of which may have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation and results of operations.

Operational risk also includes legal risk associated with inadequacy or deficiency in contracts signed by us, as well as penalties due to noncompliance with laws and punitive damages to third parties arising from the activities undertaken by us. Additionally, we have essential other services for the proper functioning of our business and technology infrastructure, such as call centers, networks, internet and systems, among others, provided by external or outsourced companies.

Impacts on the provision of these services, caused by these companies due to the lack of supply or the poor quality of the contracted services, can affect the conduct of our business as well as our clients. We also rely in certain limited capacities on third- party data management providers whose possible security problems and security vulnerabilities may have similar effects on us.

As a result of the COVID pandemic, we have rapidly increased the number of employees working remotely. This may cause increases in the unavailability of our systems and infrastructure, interruption of telecommunication services, generalized system failures and heightened vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Accordingly, our ability to conduct our business may be adversely impacted. Failure to protect personal information could adversely affect us. We manage and hold confidential personal information of identified or identifiable natural persons, including clients in the ordinary course of our business. Although we have procedures and controls to safeguard personal information in our possession, unauthorized disclosures or security breaches could subject us to legal action and administrative sanctions, as well as damage that could materially and adversely affect our operating results, reputation, financial condition and prospects.

The LGPD sets out the scenarios in which personal data can be handled, either by physical or digital means, and protects the holders of data from improper use. Additionally, it requires that the way companies handle personal data is based on the law. Further, our business is exposed to risk from potential non-compliance with policies, employee misconduct or negligence and fraud, which could result in regulatory sanctions and reputational or financial harm.

In addition, we may be required to report events related to cybersecurity issues, events where client information may be compromised, unauthorized access and other security breaches, to the relevant regulatory authority and to the subjects affected. Any material disruption or slowdown of our systems could cause information, including data related to client requests, to be lost or to be delivered to our clients with delays or errors, which could reduce demand for our services and products and could materially and adversely affect us.

Failure to adequately protect ourselves against risks relating to cybersecurity could materially and adversely affect us. We have seen in recent years computer systems of companies and organizations being targeted, not only by cyber criminals, but also by activists and rogue states. Cyberattacks can range from the installation of viruses on a personal computer to attempts to destroy the infrastructure of entire nations. We are exposed to this risk over the entire lifecycle of information, from the moment it is collected to its processing, transmission, storage, analysis and destruction.

For example, in , SolarWinds Inc. In these instances, our cybersecurity team promptly took steps to determine whether we were adversely impacted and to contain and remediate the incidents. We completed investigations of these incidents and concluded that they resulted in no material adverse impact to us, but there can be no guarantee we will not experience such an impact in the future, as we are subject to cyber threats that occur every day.

A successful cyberattack may result in unavailability of our services, leak or compromise of the integrity of information and could give rise to the loss of significant amounts of client data and other sensitive information, as well as significant levels of liquid assets including cash as well as damage to our image, directly affecting our customers and partners. In addition, cyberattacks could give rise to the disabling of our information technology systems used to service our clients.

As attempted attacks continue to evolve in scope and sophistication, we may incur significant costs in our attempt to modify or enhance our protective measures against such attacks, or to investigate or remediate any vulnerability or resulting breach. In addition, we are also subject to cyber-attacks against critical infrastructures of Brazil or of the other countries where we operate. Our information technology systems are dependent on such critical infrastructure and any cyber-attack against such critical infrastructure could negatively affect our ability to service our clients.

We also help third parties to adapt their infrastructure to work securely from home. We agree on the importance of mitigating cyber risks and the related controls are continuous monitored to ensure effectiveness as any failure to comply with these regulatory requirements could adversely affect us. The loss of senior management, or our ability to attract and maintain key personnel, could have a material adverse effect on us.

Our ability to maintain our competitive position and implement our strategy depends on our senior management. The loss of some of the members of our senior management, or our inability to maintain and attract additional personnel, could have a material adverse effect on our operations and our ability to implement our strategy. Our performance and success are largely dependent on the talents and efforts of highly skilled individuals. Talent attraction and retention is one of the key pillars for supporting the results of our organization, which is focused on client satisfaction and sustainable performance.

Our ability to attract, develop, motivate and retain the right number of appropriately qualified people is critical to our performance and ability to thrive globally. Concurrently, we face the challenge to provide a new experience to employees, so that we are able to attract and retain highly-qualified professionals who value environments offering equal opportunities and who wish to build up their careers in dynamic, cooperative workplaces, which encourage diversity and meritocracy and are up to date with new work models.

Also, our current business scenario demands not only a careful look at traditional careers, but also at new career paths that are indispensable for our future. Our performance could be adversely affected if we are unable to attract, retain and motivate key talent. As we are highly dependent on the technical skills of our personnel, including successors to crucial leadership positions, as well as their relationships with clients, the loss of key components of our workforce particularly to emerging competitors, such as start-ups and fintechs , could make it difficult to compete, grow and manage the business.

A loss of such expertise could adversely affect our financial performance, future prospects and competitive position. This loss can further affect our businesses if we lose any key employee who is difficult to replace due to a booming talent market such as data scientists, product managers, designers and others or to diversity profiles such as women in leadership roles. Misconduct of our employees or representatives may adversely affect us. Our business is based on institutional principles "Our Way" , among which are "it's only good for us if it's good for the client" and "ethics are non-negotiable".

However, part of the customer relationship depends on direct interaction with our employees or representatives. We cannot assure you that our individual employees will always comply with our internal policies and that our internal procedures will effectively monitor and identify misbehavior. Deviations in behavior such as inappropriate sales practices and improper use of information may occur.

These risks can give rise to customer attrition, need of compensation or reimbursements, litigation and, according to its extension, may expose the institution to reputation risk, financial and credibility losses with the market and regulators. We may not be able to prevent our officers, employees or third parties acting on our behalf from engaging in situations that qualify as corruption in Brazil or in any other jurisdiction, which could expose us to administrative and judicial sanctions, as well as have an adverse effect to us.

We are subject to Brazilian anticorruption legislation, and similarly-focused legislation of the other countries where we have branches and operations, as well as other anticorruption laws and regulatory regimes with a transnational scope. These laws require the adoption of integrity procedures to mitigate the risk that any person acting on our behalf may offer an improper advantage to a public agent in order to obtain benefits of any kind.

Applicable transnational legislation, such as the U. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U. We have policies and procedures designed to prevent bribery and other corrupt practices. However, unauthorized actions by our officers, employees or third parties acting on our behalf in breach of our internal policies may qualify as corruption in Brazil or in other jurisdiction and we could be exposed to administrative and judicial sanctions, accounting errors or adjustments, monetary losses and reputational damages or other adverse effects.

The perception or allegations that we, our employees, our affiliates or other persons or entities associated with us have engaged in any such improper conduct, even if unsubstantiated, may cause significant reputational harm and other adverse effects. We operate in international markets which subject us to risks associated with the legislative, judicial, accounting, regulatory, political and economic risks and conditions specific to such markets, which could adversely affect us or our foreign units.

We operate in various jurisdictions outside of Brazil through branches, subsidiaries and affiliates, and we expect to continue to expand our international presence. As we expand into these and additional markets these risks could be more significant and have the potential to have an adverse impact on us. Liquidity risk factor We face risks relating to liquidity of our capital resources. Liquidity risk, as we understand it, is the risk that we will not have sufficient financial resources to meet our obligations by the respective maturity dates or that we will honor such obligations but at an excessive cost.

This risk is inherent in the activities of any commercial or retail bank. Our capacity and cost of funding may be impacted by a number of factors, such as changes in market conditions e. If the market liquidity is reduced, the demand pressure may have a negative impact on prices, since natural buyers may not be immediately available. Should this happen, we may have a significant negative goodwill on assets, which will impact the bank's results and financial position.

The persistence or worsening of such adverse market conditions or rises in basic interest rates may have a material adverse impact on our capacity to access capital markets and on our cost of funding. Market risk factor The value of our securities and derivatives is subject to market fluctuations due to changes in Brazilian or international economic conditions and, as a result, may subject us to material losses. Market risk is the risk of losses due to movements in financial market prices.

The securities and derivative financial instruments in our portfolio may cause us to record gains and losses, when sold or marked to market in the case of trading securities , and may fluctuate considerably from period to period due to domestic and international economic conditions. In addition, we may incur losses from fluctuations in the market value of positions held, including risks associated with transactions subject to variations in foreign exchange rates, interest rates, price indexes, equity and commodity prices.

We cannot predict the amount of realized or unrealized gains or losses for any future period. Gains or losses on our investment portfolio may not contribute to our net revenue in the future or may cease to contribute to our net revenue at levels consistent with more recent periods. We may not successfully realize the appreciation or depreciation now existing in our consolidated investment portfolio or in any assets of such portfolio.

Hedge risk factor Our hedge strategy may not be able to prevent losses We use diverse instruments and strategies to hedge our exposures to a number of risks associated with our business, but we may incur losses if such hedges are not effective. We may not be able to hedge our positions, or do so only partially, or we may not have the desired effectiveness to mitigate our exposure to the diverse risks and market in which we are involved.

Any of these scenarios may adversely affect our business and financial results. Underwriting risk factor Inadequate pricing methodologies for insurance, pension plan and premium bond products may adversely affect us. Our insurance and pension plan subsidiaries establish prices and calculations for our insurance and pension products based on actuarial or statistical estimates.

The pricing of our insurance and pension plan products is based on models that include a number of assumptions and projections that may prove to be incorrect, since these assumptions and projections involve the exercise of judgment with respect to the levels and timing of receipt or payment of premiums, contributions, provisions, benefits, claims, expenses, interest, investment results, retirement, mortality, morbidity, and persistence.

We could suffer losses due to events that are contrary to our expectations directly or indirectly based on incorrect biometric and economic assumptions or faulty actuarial bases used for contribution and provision calculations. Although the pricing of our insurance and pension plan products and the adequacy of the associated reserves are reassessed on a yearly basis, we cannot accurately determine whether our assets supporting our policy liabilities, together with future premiums and contributions, will be sufficient for the payment of benefits, claims, and expenses.

Accordingly, the occurrence of significant deviations from our pricing assumptions could have an adverse effect on the profitability of our insurance and pension products. In addition, if we conclude that our reserves and future premiums are insufficient to cover future policy benefits and claims, we will be required to increase our reserves and record these effects in our financial statements, which may have a material adverse effect on us. Management Risk Factor Our policies, procedures and models related to risk control may be ineffective and our results may be adversely affected by unexpected losses.

Our risk management methods, procedures and policies, including our statistical models and tools for risk measurement, such as value at risk, or VaR, for market risk default probability estimation models for credit risk or customer unusual behavior models for fraud detection or money-laundering risk identification, may not be fully effective in mitigating our risk exposure in all economic environments or against all types of risks, including those that we fail to identify or anticipate.

Some of our qualitative tools and metrics for managing risk are based on our observations of the historical market behavior. In addition, due to limitations on information available in Brazil, to assess clients' creditworthiness, we rely largely on credit information available from our own databases, on certain publicly available consumer credit information and other sources.

We apply statistical and other tools to these observations and data to quantify our risk exposure. These tools and metrics may fail to predict all types of future risk exposures. These risk exposures, for example, could arise from factors we did not anticipate or correctly evaluate in our statistical models. This would limit our ability to manage our risks. Our losses, therefore, could be significantly greater than indicated by historical measures.

In addition, our quantified modeling may not take all risks into account. Our qualitative approach to managing those risks could prove insufficient, exposing us to material unexpected losses. Our results of operations and financial position depend on our ability to evaluate losses associated with risks to which we are exposed and on our ability to build these risks into our pricing policies. We recognize an allowance for loan losses aiming at ensuring an allowance level compatible with the expected loss, according to internal models credit risk measurement.

The calculation also involves significant judgment on the part of our management. Those judgments may prove to be incorrect or change in the future depending on information as it becomes available. These factors may adversely affect us. Strategy risk factor Our business strategy may not provide us the results we expect. Our strategy and challenges are determined by management based on related assumptions, such as the future economic environment, and the regulatory, political and social scenarios in the regions in which we operate.

These assumptions are subject to inaccuracies and risks that might not be identified or anticipated. Accordingly, the results and consequences arising from any possible inaccurate assumptions may compromise our capacity to fully or partially implement strategies and capital expenditure plans, as well as to achieve the results and benefits expected therefrom, which might give rise to financial losses and reduce the value creation to our stockholders.

Additionally, factors beyond our control, such as, but not limited to, economic and market conditions, changes in laws and regulations, including regulations limiting fees or interest rates and fostering an increasingly competitive scenario, and other risk factors stated in this annual report may make it difficult or impossible to implement fully or partially our business model and also our achieving the results and benefits expected from our business plan. Adverse changes to the political and economic scenario in Latin America may affect some of the challenges we have taken on, such as the internationalization of our business, since our strategy to strengthen our position in other countries is also dependent on the respective economic performance of these countries.

The integration of acquired or merged businesses involves certain risks that may have a material adverse effect on us. As part of our growth strategy in the Brazilian and Latin American financial sector, we have engaged in a number of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships with other companies and financial institutions in the past and may pursue further such transactions in the future.

When we do announce, our stock price may fall depending on the size of the acquisition. Even though we review the companies we plan to acquire, it is generally not viable for these reviews to be complete in all respects. Any such transactions involve risks, such as the possible incurrence of unanticipated costs as a result of difficulties in integrating systems, finance, accounting and personnel platforms, failure in diligence or the occurrence of unanticipated contingencies, as well as the breach of the transaction agreements by counterparties.

In addition, we may not achieve the operating and financial synergies and other benefits that we expected from such transactions in a timely manner, on a cost-effective basis or at all. There is also the risk that antitrust and other regulatory authorities may impose restrictions or limitations on the transactions or on the businesses that arise from certain combinations or impose fines or sanctions due to the interpretation by the authorities of irregularities with respect to a corporate merger, consolidation or acquisition.

If we are unable to take advantage of business growth opportunities, cost savings, operating efficiencies, revenue synergies and other benefits we anticipate from mergers and acquisitions, or if we incur greater integration costs than we have estimated, then we may be adversely affected. Reputational risk factor Damage to our reputation could harm our business and outlook.

We are highly dependent on our image and credibility to generate business. A number of factors may tarnish our reputation and generate a negative perception of the institution by our clients, counterparties, stockholders, investors, supervisors, commercial partners and other stakeholders, such as noncompliance with legal obligations, making irregular sales to clients, dealing with suppliers with questionable ethics, negative publicity, unauthorized disclosure of client data, inappropriate behavior by our employees, and third-party failures in risk management, among others.

In addition, certain significant actions taken by third parties, such as competitors or other market participants, may indirectly damage our reputation with clients, investors and the market in general. If we are unable, or are perceived unable, to properly address these issues we may be subject to penalties, fines, class actions, and regulatory investigations, among others.

Damages to our reputation among clients, investors and other stakeholders may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial performance and prospects. Financial Reporting risk factor We make estimates and assumptions in connection with the preparation of our financial statements, and any changes to those estimates and assumptionscould have a material adverse effect on our operating results.

In connection with the preparation of our financial statements, we use certain estimates and assumptions based on historical experience and other factors. While we believe that these estimates and assumptions are reasonable under the circumstances, they are subject to significant uncertainties, some of which are beyond our control.

Should any of these estimates and assumptions change or prove to have been incorrect, our reported operating results could be materially adversely affected. As a result of the inherent limitations in our disclosure and accounting controls, misstatements due to error or fraud may occur and not be detected. Our disclosure controls and procedures are designed to provide reasonable assurance that information required to be disclosed by us in reports we file with or submit to the SEC under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to management, recorded, processed summarized and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms.

We believe that any disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls and procedures, including related accounting controls, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. These inherent limitations include the realities that judgments in decision-making can be faulty and that breakdowns can occur because of simple error or mistake. In addition, controls can be circumvented by the individual acts of some persons, by collusion of two or more people or by an unauthorized override of the controls.

Any failure by us to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting may adversely affect investor confidence in our company and, as a result, the value of investments in our securities. We are required under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of to furnish a report by our management on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and to include a report by our independent auditors attesting to such effectiveness. Any failure by us to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could adversely affect our ability to report accurately our financial condition or results of operations.

If we are unable to conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent auditors determine that we have a material weakness or significant deficiency in our internal control over financial reporting, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, the market prices of our shares and ADSs could decline, and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the SEC or other regulatory authorities.

Failure to remedy any material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or to implement or maintain other effective control systems required of public companies subject to SEC regulation, also could restrict our future access to the capital markets.

We adopt Brazilian accounting standards and managerial disclosures that differ from foreign standards, including from the U. Furthermore, we disclose quarterly reports on managerial financial information not required in other countries. Concentration risk factor We face risks related to market concentration. Concentration risk is the risk associated with potentially high financial losses triggered by significant exposure to a particular component of risk, whether it be related to a particular counterparty, industry, geographic region, mitigating instruments, index or currency.

Examples of such risks include significant exposure to a single counterparty, to counterparties operating in the same economic sector or geographical region, to businesses segments or credit products, or to financial instruments that depend on the same index or currency.

We believe that failure to diversify transactions with respect to a particular risk factor could generate material financial loss for us. Competition risk factor We face risks associated with the increasingly competitive environment, and recent consolidations in the Brazilian banking industry, as well as competition based on technological alternatives to traditional banking services. The Brazilian market for financial services is highly competitive. We face increasing and significant competition from other Brazilian and international banks, in addition to other non-financial companies competing in certain segments of the financial industry in which we operate.

These latter competitors may not be subject to the same regulatory and capital requirements that we are and, therefore, may be able to operate with less stringent regulatory requirements. Competition has increased as a result of recent consolidations among financial institutions in Brazil and of regulations that i increase the ability of clients to switch business between financial institutions, ii with the client's permission, grant access to financial and personal information in such institutions, and iii establish rules for an instant payment arrangement.

Furthermore, digital technologies are changing the ways customers access financial services and the competitive environment with respect to such services. The use of digital channels has risen steadily over the past few years. In this context, new competitors are seeking to disrupt existing business models through technological alternatives to traditional financial services.

If we are not successfully able to compete with these disruptive business models and markets such as startups and fintechs , we may lose market share and, consequently, lower our margins and profitability. Such increased competition may also adversely affect us by, among other things, limiting our ability to retain or increase our current client base and to expand our operations, or by impacting the fees and rates we adopt, which could reduce our profit margins on financial and other services and products we offer.

We are subject to Brazilian antitrust legislation and that of other countries in which we operate or will possibly operate. We are in a dominant position in certain Brazilian banking markets and, therefore, may be subject to the Brazilian antitrust laws including No. Accordingly, we may be subject to penalties from Brazilian antitrust authorities, especially administrative fines and divestiture of assets. Additionally, we are subject to the antitrust legislation in the jurisdictions where we operate, such as the antitrust laws of the U.

Consequently, we cannot assure that Brazilian and foreign antitrust regulations will not adversely affect our business in the future. Johnston, which in turn is controlled by the Moreira Salles family. To the extent that these and other conflicting interests exist, our stockholders will depend on our directors duly exercising their fiduciary duties as members of our Board of Directors.

Notwithstanding, according to Brazilian Corporate Law the controlling stockholders should always vote in the interest of the company. In addition, they are prohibited from voting in cases of conflict of interest in the matter to be decided. The relative price volatility and limited liquidity of the Brazilian capital markets may significantly limit the ability of our investors to sell the preferred shares underlying our ADSs, at the price and time they desire.

The investment in securities traded in emerging markets frequently involves a risk higher than an investment in securities of issuers from the U. The Brazilian securities market is smaller, less liquid, more concentrated and can be more volatile than markets in the U. Thus, an investor's ability to sell preferred shares underlying ADSs at the price and time the investor desires may be substantially limited.

The preferred shares underlying our ADSs do not have voting rights, except in specific circumstances. Pursuant to our Bylaws, the holders of preferred shares and therefore of our ADSs are not entitled to vote in our general stockholders' meetings, except in specific circumstances.

Even in such circumstances, ADS holders may be subject to practical restrictions on their ability to exercise their voting rights due to additional operational steps involved in communicating with these stockholders, as mentioned below. According to the provisions of the ADSs deposit agreement, in the event of a general stockholders' meeting, we will provide notice to the depositary bank, which will, to the extent practicable, send such notice to ADS holders and instructions on how such holders can participate in such general stockholders' meeting, and ADS holders should instruct the depositary bank on how to vote in order to exercise their voting rights.

This additional step of instructing the ADS depositary bank may make the process for exercising voting rights longer for ADS holders. Holders of ADSs may be unable to exercise preemptive rights with respect to our preferred shares We may not be able to offer the U. Metal workers have threat ened an eight-hour nation- wide strike for tomorrow. Mad Max injects new life into east German mining hamlet T he road to Grknmin leads straight into a light brown lunar landsca p e of slag-heaps and ploughed soft.

Once it was a village of people, but they disappeared years ago when their homes were swal- lowed up by the Golpa-Nord brown coal mine. But, unlike those other hamlets and villages which were scrubbed off the map by monstrous excavators, Gremmin is on the verge of being reborn, in spirit at least It is part of an unusual project to address the prob- lems of industrial decline and environmental damage in one of east Germany's most depressed regions, Saxony- Anhalt The Ferropolis project involves turning the Golpa- Nord mine, exhausted six years ago, into a mixture of a theme park and exhibition centre, ft wffl.

The money is part of the international effort to have the plant shut by the year The funds will come, from the Nuclear Safety Account, administered by the Euro- pean Bank for Reconstruc- tion and Development on behalf of 14 western donor countries and the European Union. It will finance an interim storage facility for spent fuel and one far treat- ing liquid radioactive waste, and will also, fund some short-term safety measures at the third reactor prior to closure.

About half of the work will be carried out by Ukrainian companies. Western countries have agreed to provide a total of m to prepare the decom- missioning of Chernobyl and for interim safety measures. Banking operations, including grow- ing dividend income from the bank's equity holdings and profits from share sales, accounted for 40 per cent of income in the period.

The EBRD and a group of international banks have agreed to provide a m loan to the Alfa consor- tium of companies in Russia to ftmd the opening of six MOscow supermarkets. Soane Heavy coalmining hardware will be dramatic centrepiece of the new Ferropolis leisure centre in Saxony- Anhal t Ata«r Into the Golpa-Nord mine.

There, four huge mining machines - nicknamed Mad Max, Medusa, Gemini and Mosquito - are being arranged in a square. A fifth machine - Big Wheel - wfi] be to the side. The surrounding landscape will be flooded, leaving the exhibition, site as an felonH Mr Thomas Worms, head of the local Expo office, believes this startling arrangement will become a popular tourist and leisure attraction.

As well as a per- manent exhibition devoted to brown, coal mining, Ferro- polis will be a venue for art shows and concerts. He is also convinced that the sheer spectacle of the project will be a magnet for tourists. Ferropolis has attracted thousands of visi- tors, even though it will not open officially until next year. The inspiration behind Ferropolis came from the Ba.

Two students from Bauhaus, which as the onetime work- place of Walter Gropius and Mies van der R5he can Hahn to be one of the main sources of modern architec- ture and design, came up with the Idea five years ago. At that time the Golpa- Nord mine was scheduled to be filled in and simply land- scaped.

The machines were destined for the scrapyard. The idea of taking a differ- ent approach, one which sought to preserve a bit of the history of the mine and the tnachfries which worked it was not immediately pop- ular. But as the job of closing the mine and breaking up the machines started to get under way there was a change of heart. The DM5. For the state, Ferropolis has a symbolic resonance.

The worked -out mine seems an expression of exhausted potential; even the manufac- turer of its machines, a big local engin eering concern called SKET. Frederick Stndemann Estonia coalition close to. The Reform party, led by Mr Slim Kallas, who quit yesterday as foreign minis- ter, will decide today whether to leave the govern- ment. The year-old government is the sixth since Estonia regained its independence from the former Soviet Union in The resignations come after a row over a co-opera- tion agreement between the Coalition party of Mr Tiit Vaehi.

It gave the prime minister until yesterday to scrap the deal. Mr Vaehi has tried to reas- sure his partners that the deal would not lead to the Centre party joining the coalition. He insisted that the word- ing meant only that the Coalition and Centre parties would work together to strengthen democracy". Free with your Emirates flight.

An Emirates flight. Forget those tiresome frequent flyer programmes: with Emirates you simply take one full IATA fere return flight in Business or First and get a free return Economy flight to any destination in the same 20ne see below. And with 22 destinations to choose from, and award-winning service all the way, you can see why thit is onr most rewarding offer yet. Jr MMbounw. Hanoi has recently wanned to leasing as a way of helping usually financially weak Vietnamese companies get access to high-value machinery for infrastructure projects.

Since it first allowed foreign investment In leasing in February, one joint venture has been approved, involving Banque Frampaise du Commerce Extgrieure and a World Bank affiliate, the International Finance Corporation. Uzbekneftegaz, an Uzbek state monopoly in oil and gas, hopes to produce 9m tons of oil and condensate this year, three times its production for This should enable the country to save hard currency and reduce Moscow's leverage on the central Asian state.

The Fergana refinery can process 6m tons of oil per year, producing mostly diesel and fuel oil. The new dehydrosulphurisation plant will handle 1. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Japanese Es-im Bank are considering jointly financing tbe project, with the Uzbek government paying 15 per cent up boat. Sander Thoenes. Almaty Pipeline will double gas flow A second natural gas pipeline from Algeria to Italy will come onstream by January Transmed, which was designed to transport 12bn cubic metres, passes through Tunisia and the Sicilian channel in the Mediterranean.

The work to double the gas Oow, which started in Bauer, Tunis Bofors of Sweden yesterday announced It had won a contract to supply anti-armour weapons to the French defence forces. The systems which will be delivered over three years. Telephone Organisation of Thailand. During the next five years, the number of telephone lines in Thailand is expected to double, giving 20 per cent of the population telecommunications access. The pilots' union leadership met yesterday to decide whether to recommend the contract to its members.

If it decides not to do so, American is unlikely tp make the announcement If the union decides to put the contract to the vote. American will announce It will buy Boeing s, s, s and s if the pilots vote to accept its offer. American has not released details of the proposed new pilots' contract If voted on, the result is expected next month.

A decision by American to buy the aircraft would put Boeing ahead of Airbus Industrie, its European rival, for orders won this year. Airbus suffered a string of defeats from Boeing, with the US company winning a large order from Singapore Airlines at the end of last year and from Malaysia Airlines earlier this year. Airbus says tt has suffered tram not being able to offer as extensive a range as Boeing, because it has no large aircraft to compete with the Boeing But Airbus is planning to build the A3XX.

The US engine joint venture has said that It would like Snecma to participate in its programme. Major South Korean car makers Hyundai and Dae- woo. They will be joined by Samsung, perhaps the best known of Korea's electronics concerns, which is itself to start car production next year, the study observes.

Some major western car companies, notably General Motors and Ford, and the Japanese industry do have their own large electronics interests and will be better placed than the European industry to repel Korean competition. Euro- pean carmakers could enhance their own competi- tiveness by quickly agreeing common operating standards for advanced electronics equipments - particularly that involving communica- tions - and forging alliances with electronics companies.

This is already starting to happen. Mercedes-Benz of Germany recently joined forces with IBM to develop a range of electronics compo- nents. Die Flnaneml Time, On! Cade OL Pace. G Ua:DB. Pri ce. Keep it that way by being up-to-daic and organised with the help of a Financial Times diary or accessory. We offer a complete range of desktop and pocket models, including our popular Financial Tunes Desk Diary shown above. Whichever diary or accessory best suits your needs and tastes, they all present essential information with the some quality you Ve come to expect from the Financial Times.

If you arc interested in purchasing! To place your order in the L : SA. The US is seeking to build a united front among the 18 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum, whose leaders hold their annual summit in Manila on Monday. Washing- ton wants a deal finalised at the World Trade Organisa- tion's first ministerial meet- ing in Singapore next month. However, although Apec members broadly support the idea of an IT agreement, discussions In Manila have exposed divisions over exactly what it should con- tain.

Several Asian coun- tries. However, many other countries are said to have offered to do little, or noth- ing, more than meet tungting commitments under the Uru- guay Round world trade deal. Apec's hopes of achieving consensus at this week's meetings have also been marred by a US reluctance to go along with a scheme to introduce an Apec- wide visa for business travellers.

The US is concerned that the scheme would weaken its control over immigration policy. Differences over the pro- posed IT agreement centre on the kinds of products which it would cover. But many Asian producers of electronics products want a narrower scope, to protect their borne markets from US competition. Some Apec officials still hope that heads of govern- ment can resolve this and other disagreements when they meet on Monday. But others fear any compromises may do little more than paper over the cracks.

He stressed that US export subsidies in the agricultural area were not designed to harm third parties. In a later speech to the Australian parliament, Mr Clinton repeated his "free trade" pledge, saying he was committed to work with Congress on market-opening opportunities around the world.

He also emphasised that the US remained committed to playing an active role in the Asian region, despite renewed involvement with Latin America and long- standing ties with Europe. All but the British had proposed joint ventures with Vietnamese companies for the project, which would involve building a new ter- minal capable of handling 20m passengers a year. Passenger traffic is soaring in Vietnam, anfl the country urgently needs to expand its airports to cope with future volume.

Tan Son Nhut once the scene of fierce fi ghting in the closing stages of the Vietnam war, is used by 18 foreign airlines as well as the fast -expanding flag car- rier Vietnam Airlines. Vietnam Is sensitive to for- eign involvement in its air- ports because they are owned or part-owned by the military.

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A close aide said last night that In the eyes of his sup- porters in the developing nations, the US veto cast In the Security Council on Tuesday was a badge of hon- our and no humiliation. China exercised its veto power no fewer than 16 times In December to block the appointment of Mr Kurt Waldheim for an unprecedented third term. Since then, officials say. Still, he acknowledges privately he has almost no hope of pre- vailing against a determined superpower whose continued support far the UN may well depend on his removal.

The African states are expected to relent and offer other choices following a farther US veto - perhaps next week. The prospect then is for a period of deadlock. The US has proposed no alternative and appears unlikely to do so, if only because France has indicated that Washington's first choice is unlikely to find favour in Paris. Diplomats expect that a slate of African candidates will eventually be offered, most of whom will either fail to obtain the required nrinimum of II votes or be vetoed if they gam that majority.

The final decision then rests with the nation General Assembly, where there is no veto and developing nations have the overwhelming majority. If the Africans fail to rally behind a candidate acceptable to the US, western diplomats say they risk losing their chance for the succession. In that case, an Asian is thought to be a likely choice although no one has yet mentioned a name. Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem in As a Coptic Christian In an Islamic state, he could never aspire to the top ranks of government service but was made deputy prime min- ister In the run-up to his UN election five years ago.

The roam Cairo palace reported to be his birthplace apparently was a figment of Someone's imagination. The Boutros rthaii home had a mere 50 rooms, according to a member of his staff. However, the secretary- general and his wife Leia are both millionaires several ffmpfi over - she from a for- tune made in chocolate. Sorbonne- educated. President Jacques Chirac Is believed to have a place for him in the organisation of francophone states after he leaves the UN. With a black shroud con- cealing her black trousers and red silk blouse, Mrs Fatemeh Hashemi - daugh- ter of President Ali Akbar Hashexni Rafsaryani and sis- ter of Faiza.

After losing most of their rights in the revolution. Including the Family Protection Law, which restricted polygamy and facilitated divorce, Iranian women have in recent years fought back and in some cases regained lost ground.

Women may now receive wages for housework and can sometimes in cases of divorce sue for back pay. The revolution led to the sacking of women judges but they are now acting as judi- cial advisers and, according to Mrs Hashexni. This is no easy task since Moslem clerics are often in disagreement over acceptable interpretations of Islaxnic law.

Her priority, she said, was to introduce changes in the laws seeking, for example, to establish women's right to divorce and to allow men and women to set conditions in a marriage contract. After all, she believes the revolution has led to sig- nificant achievements for women, citing for example improvements in literacy. But this is a special kind of feminism, often ridden with contradictions.

Islamic law, the source of discrimination against women, is partly derived from Koranic verses but also includes recorded sayings of the prophet and conserva- tive male jurists' decisions. Mrs Hashemi said sayings and jurists' decisions could be subject to reinterpreta- tion. This has allowed a lively debate on woxnen's issues to Sourish in Tehran, often fuelled by articles in a leading women's magazine, Zanan.

But anything specifically and clearly stated in the Koran can never be ques- tioned. And for these rules, all Islamic feminists can do is develop justifications. On the issue of a woman's testimony, for example. Iranian women are never- theless far better off than their counterparts in neigh- bouring countries such as Saudi Arabia, where they are prohibited from mixing with men and deprived of even the risht to drive cars.

The Palestinian leader tabled ha demand at a meeting in Parts with 34 donor governments, the World Rank and other international organisations. Paris Mg -v-. Roula Khalaf, Chiluba wins flawed electioi Mr Frederick Chiluba has won a second and final t president of Zambia, following a landslide victory by r uling Movement for Multiparty Democracy in Mouda general election. Opposition parties are likely to hold , fewer than 20 of parliamentary seats when the final! I Mr Chiluba has rebuffed appeals to lift laws banning M Kenneth Kaunda, 72, the former president, fit m contesting the election.

Mr Bocaram, who has been advised by the archi- tect oT the Argentine plan, Mr Domingo Cavallo, believes convertibility, would provide the sort, of economic discipline -that Ecuador needs. However, others are less enthusiastic about being pot into such a straitjacket.

For example, the central bank would be deprived of flexibility to deal with shocks to Ecuador's econ- omy, such as a war with neighbouring Peru or a financial crisis, both of which have occurred in the past two years. Some analysts question whether Ecuador. Inflation for example, is around 25 per cent, not the 5, per cent experienced by Argentina at the time. Looking at. Mr Pablo Concha, finance minister, has been at temp t s fog to soothe nerves.

Indeed, the government is aware that important struc- tural reforms and tight fiscal discipline will be needed to implement such a plan and stick to it Top of the list, for instance, are measures to make the labour market more flexible, to restructure the current Monetary Board, and to improve supervision of the financial system.

Mr Concha plans to bal- ance the public sector budget, but in order to do so. Electricity tariffs are set to follow suit. Reforms to budget-setting procedures, for example, by removing the executive's dis- cretionary power to raise spending by 10 per cent more than the amount approved by Congress, are intended to complement spe- cific revenue-raising mea- sures. Putting aH these reforms mean it may be the. Mr Bucaram also faces two big obstacles.

The first is credibility. Completing his first days in office on Monday, Mr Bucaram faced a barrage of criticism for. Last week, he proposed a 1, per cant tax on alcohol and cigarette imports, also to dis- cipline the population, but this week the proposal was withdrawn. Catholic bishops, led by Car- and more freedom to ex Vat ican foreign President Fidel Castro, m union.

He praised the Pope In the post-cold war world, dinal Jaime Ortega, angered religious teaching. Thej m i nis t er , Mr Jean whose revolutionary govern- lor his "areata ess" humblv where Mr Castro no lancer government leaders bv crit- Dress for a role in nrov W hen the visiting Vatican foreign minister, Mr Jean Louis Tfluran, celebrated mass in Havana in late Octo- ber, the congregation treated him to ah ovation of cheers and applause at the end of the service.

The island is the only Spanish-speaking country in Latin America the Pope has not visited. The prospect of a papal visit to Cuba is all the more interesting consid- ering tiie Pope's formidable reputation as an anti-com- munist crusader. Mr Castro's political foes said they were encouraged by the news. Many rightwing Cuban exfles took a similar view. None of this potential drama was visible at Tues- day's meeting.

Mr Castro, who turned 70 this year and was once educated by Jesu- its. He later created an atheistic single-party com- munist state that virtually excluded Catholics from political life for three, decades. Nevertheless, diplo- matic ties with the Vatican were maintained.

Catholic Church activity, although greatly reduced from pre- levels, continued. In the last decade, the Cuban leadership has moved to improve relations with religious groups. Constitu- tional changes in lifted the ban on religious beh ev- ens joining the Communist party. In the post-cold war world, where Mr Castro no longer enjoys the economic and political support of his for- mer Soviet bloc allies, he would clearly prefer to have the Catholic Church as a friend rather than an enemy.

The Cuban leader sees the Vatican as a potential ally in his international campaign to overturn the longstanding US economic embargo against Cuba. However, reconciliation with the Catholic Church could represent a political risk to Mr Castro and his regime. Tatma Ortega, angered government leaders by crit- icising an official crackdown against political dissidents and the February 24 shoot- ing down by Cuban Mlgs of two small US aircraft In the past they have attacked the monopolistic offici al ideol- ogy and widespread curbs on personal freedoms.

Despite the recent thaw in relations, the government has made clear it will not allow the Catholic Church to become a focal paint of open political opposition. Not long ago, church services on big feast days were heavily policed by plainclothes secu- rity agents who quickly pounced on any worshippers shouting anti-government slogans.

Such incidents are rare these days. The Catholic bishops take care to preach a message of brotherly recon- ciliation, while seeking to increase the Church's role in society. Church leaders call far access to the state media and more freedom to expand religious teaching. They press for a role in providing health and social assistance to the population.

These demands are couched in non-political terms, but they clearly threaten to encroach on the ruling Communist party's existing monopoly of social control. The party recently acknowledged the rise in religious worship but blithely concluded: "This does not represent a problem far the Revolution. But many more Cubans, encouraged by the increased official tolerance, would identify themselves as Catholics.

Church atten- dance is up and the number of baptisms is reported to be growing rapidly. This spiritual revival is j likely to be boosted by the visit of the Pope. Unexpected rise in US trade deficit r. As announcement of the economic plan now coincides with the end of the tradi- tional honeymoon allowed a new government, Mr Bucaram may therefore receive little co-operation from congress when he tries to push through his re f orm programme.

Merrill Lynch, the finan- cial services group, said the depressing report implied that third- quarter gross domestic product growth, previously reported at 2 J 2 per cent, would be revised down to about 1. Deutsche Morgan Gren- fell, the investment bank, described the goods deficit with a succinct, "Ugh! Either you. Im p orts of petro- leum products rose by 9. Republicans back Gingrich By Gerard Baker in Washington Mr Newt Gingrich yesterday received the unanimous backing of bis Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives, all but ensuring his re-election as House Speaker for another two years.

Mr Gingrich was re-noml- nated by acclamation for the position of Speaker by Republicans, in a move that ended two weeks of specula- tion about a possible attempt to topple him by disgruntled colleagues. Since the November 5 elec- tion that returned a Demo- cratic president and a Republican-controlled Con- gress. His nomination by the Republican majority means he is almost certain to be re-elected by the full Con- gress when it convenes on January 7.

The report is expected to be released by January. Eco-friendly optical submarine cable The global Information superhighway is here, tfe called the Internet. If, as suggested by some experts, the astonishing growth in popularity of the Internet continues, with hundreds of mffltons of Internet users by the tom of the century H will transform for ever the way businesses communicate, and the way information, education and entertainment services are accessed.

Within ten years, communication via the internet could become as much a commodity as telephony today AO of this creates exciting new oppor- turtfes far individuate and businesses, who wil have access to a vast range of new services. Built wffl also create a new set of challenges for the networks that carry these new Internet services.

Ericsson is developing systems that will artow public network operators and service providers to position their network oftewig at the heart of the- Internet information society over the coming years, braiding robust and flexible nefwotk infrastructures that wffl handle both telephony and multimedia communications. Bandwidth end capacity are the key network issues. In the Internet era partly as a result of the sheer number of usere erf Internet services, but mainly because video and.

A single Web site may have many hundreds of pages of information on offer, and in the vary near future the Internet will be widely used as a communication channel for real-time audio and video Information. The backbone network must foerafbre be able to carry the sheer volume of information. Arid the access network must be able to defiver services such as real- time video to people's homes and businesses.

At a recant conference In Geneva, Switzerland, Ericsson revealed some Insights into the company's Internet development programme. Internet access Ericsson has several new access systems,' using a range of technotogfes to give bus- iness and residential subscribers high- speed Internet access. Public intranet Service Network The Ericsson Public Intranet Service Network allows Internet services to be managed and controfied within a Public Intranet - a closed part of the Internet with higher security and guaranteed quality for business services.

Internet backbone traffic The Ericsson Internet Backbone System provides a complete solution for the Internet backbone, including transmission equip- ment and switching equipment Frame Relay and ATM for Internet traffic. Micro live! It is a repeateriess cable system, contain- ing up to 48 optical fibres in a single cable, and capable of spanning distances up to km without the need for underwater repeaters.

In the near future, the distance wfli be boosted to km with pumped In- line optical ampBffers, and the number of fixes per cable increased to The global market for submarine optical cables is expected to be worth USD 5 bflUon over the next ten years, as new services such as fax, Internet, video and data transmission call for increased bandwidth and capacity in telecom networks. These days, the SUC is likely to be a single microelectronic chip.

And increas- ingly the chip is Bkety to have been manu- factured by Ericsson. Now, the launch of a completely new- generatton family of SUCcomponents looks set to expand Ericsson's share of this spedafised market sector.

The new devices have been developed to meet the widest possible range of requirements among telecom network operators worldwide. The company can supply the new cables as part of complete turnkey projects. A unique feature is the patented acoustic-channel flip, which enhances voice quality and screens out background noise. A menu of controls makes the new phone very easy to use.

The magazine comment- ed favourably on the size, talkfine and data transmission speed of the phone, as well as the voice quality and sensitivity. World round-up Ruwfe Three recent orders higftlgftt the rale Ericsson Is playing in the davatoptnant of mobte oommu nl cafions «n Russia. T btee nd beco m es the 18th country to choose the system. Stockholm, Sweden. But Beijing warned that continued US arms sales to Taiwan threatened improved ties. The US criticised Chi- na's h uman rights record, and Mr Christopher requested Beijing to release prominent dissidents.

The meeting is expected to be the prelude to a series of high-level exchanges, including a state visit to Washington early next year by Mr Jiang. Mr Li Peng, premier, and Mr Jiang, engaged in wide-rang- ing discussions which cov- ered arms proliferation.

The two sides also agreed to push for the early implementation of a year-old agreement on peaceful nuclear co-operation. Washington has said Beijing must strengthen export controls before it agrees to sanction transfers of nuclear technology. The US is pressing China for further economic liberalisation and improved market access. Mr Jeff Kennett, state premier, said yesterday the deal should establish a more competitive gas market Various proposals would allow for greater competition in the supply of gas and greater interstate gas sales, have been held back partly by the continuing tax issue.

For example, BHP said yes- terday it believed the deal should clear the way for the Victorian government to approve a pipeline to supply Bass Strait gas into New South Wales. The Victorian government has already called on consul- tants to advise how gas industry restructuring might proceed, and some commen- tators believe privatisation is likely to be the eventual outcome. The matter has been sub- ject to arbitration, appeal and then settlement discus- sions for several years.

BHP shares rose on news 1 of the settlement. Closing 55 cents higher at AJ1B. By James Kynge in Singapore Singapore announced yesterday that its non-oil exports rose slightly in Octo- ber, providing hope that the island state may be starting to climb out of an export slump which has depressed the wider economy. The benchmark Straits Times Industrials Index rose The market has fallen steadily over the last few months as scarcely any part of the economy appeared immune from a downturn precipitated by falling exports, mainly of electron- ics goods.

Property prices have eased, retail sales show a downward trend, port opera- tors, shipyards and shipping rrvmpqnfma have encou ntere d diffi cult times,, and some electronics companies have recorded steep losses. Hence the widespread relief at an albeit modest indication of better times. Exports rose a nominal 1. In September exports fell 6. Economists said that the outlook for electronics goods is generally strong because the key US book-to-blll ratio is showing, for the first time in several months, that orders are exceeding actual sales.

The healthier trade picture follows data which showed that Singapore's beleaguered retail sector may be abont to recover from months of declining fortunes. Although retail takings in September fell 2. Bangladesh stock market protest By Kasra Nap in Dhaka Police used tear gas yesterday to disperse thousands of demonstrators ontside the Dhaka stock exchange, where prices have fallen sharply after recent record performances.

The protests apparently broke oat after brokers from the exchange threatened to take legal action against the Securities and Exchange Commis- sion, the market watchdog, for stop- ping company directors from becoming broken. Scuffles broke out between the kerb traders and brokers, who were accused of manipulating the market. Prices on the unofficial kerb market Dell 20 per cent yesterday, while the official Dhaka index touched It has fallen for three consecutive days from 3.

Yesterday the volume of. The demonstrators, mostly- kerb traders, blame stock exchange authori- ties for the rapid fall in prices. Last month, the authorities intro- duced the circuit breaker of 5 per cent on the floor of the exchange to limit volatility after a heady rise in the index from abont 1, in September to the 3, level in early November. The recent bull market has attracted many small investors to the kerb mar- ket. The authorities say 10m people are involved in the share markets.

World Stock Markets, Page 36 jf. And it's in this spirit we've created our new Executive Class Seasons. Not only have we commissioned Britain's foremost designer. Sir Terence Conran, to seasonally upgrade our cabins with different fabrics and colours - we've also introduced a menu that changes with the seasons. So no matter how many times you fly with us, it'll always seem like a new experience. So next time you fancy a change, contact your focal have! Sichuan, whose gross! I ranks fourth in economic output among all provinces, I but with Chongqing removed from the equation, ' its weight will inevitably diminish nationally.

Landlocked Sichuan, far away from booming coastal areas, certainly needs a boost. Exports in accounted for 1. Sichuan's share of foreign investment is a fraction of the national figure. By the end of , investment stood at S5. In those years, revolution- ary leaders, including Deng Xiaoping. China's patriarch and best known Slchuanese, were in Chongqing. Completion of the Three Gorges project by should benefit Chongqing substantially, since it will attract new investment and tourism.

Not only will Chongqing benefit from the dam. Construction of tbe dam requires expenditure of about Yn20bn to clean up the environment, notably stopping raw effluent pour- ing into the rivers. Dozens of pollu- ting factories will also have to be closed or moved. Mr Liao Cbangg nan g, reputed to be one of the city's richest men.

In a last-minute compromise, the government agreed to postpone a vote until next week and offered concessions on political reforms to break opposition resistance. The two main opposition parties had tried to postpone OECD entry by several yearn because they believed economic reforms associated with membership could disrupt the already weak Korean economy and in order to apply pressure to win concessions on proposed political reforms.

But the plan most be accepted by Vietnam's London Club creditors before that can start Representatives of the central banir and a foreign bank advisory committee would meet to draw up a final term sheet, probably in New York in tbe next few weeks, the official added. The planned offer follows a sharp depletion in official foreign exchange reserves. Separately yesterday, the finance ministry reassured depositors that their foreign currency deposits would remain immune from scrutiny by tax officials In spite of a series of anti-corruption laws announced on Monday.

Farhan Bokhari, Islamabad International Capital Markets, Page 24 Indian foreign bank permits The Reserve Bank of India is to allow four more foreign hanks to open offices in the country, it said yesterday. The four banks are Harm Bank. Yesterday's announcement bitogs to eight the number of foreign banks which have been granted permission to open offices in India since Februai? Mr Alain Bertrand. There was growing evidence t hat the fire had broken out on the freight shuttle before it entered the.

French end of the 1mm eL Security offic i als who spotted the Maxing tracks were unable to stop the train before it had gone 27km into the tunnel. Mr Robert Malpas, co-chairman of Eurotunnel, acknowledged that claims by the French transport minister, Mr Bernard Pons, that the train was on fire when It entered the tunnel might be true.

Mr Mike For dbam. But it feels economically more confident the nar- rowing of the north-south divide in Britain could bene- fit the ruling Conservative party at the general election, the study concludes. A large majority of the public is now happy with the idea of frank sex scenes being shown In cinemas and on television - but hot if they portray homosexuality.

Disapproval of bad language on television remains high, however. There has been a sharp shift over the past decade in attitudes to legalising canna- bis, although a small major- ity still oppose the idea. On attitudes to Europe, a new Eurosceptic trend may be gathering strength. One of the survey's stark- est findings, however, is on incomes. It shows that 87 per cent now believe the gap between the highest and lowest incomes is too large.

It is among them that concern about inequality has increased the most, the study says. The better Off are also keen to preserve key parts of the -welfare state - most notably health and educa- tion. They not only join the rest of the country in want- ing more spent In these areas, but say they are also prepared to pay more tax themselves to achieve that, the study found. That held true even among those who already have pri- vate medical insurance and who already pay school fees, with high, levels of support for more education spending - even at the price of more tax — suggesting that man y of the better-off are reluctant converts to private schools.

If state schools were better, they would happily use them, the study suggests. People are also slightly less wilting than they were to retrain if they become unemployed. The recovery in sales after a slowdown in September was still less th a n some economists expec- ted. But Mr Clarke faced pressure for a further rise in interest rates after separate figures yesterday showed the fastest growth in the quantity of money circulating in the econ- omy since January.

This was the fastest growth rate since October Sales vol- umes were up 04 per cent between September and October. The strongest sales increases were in large food stores - a sign that the big supermarkets are enjoying better trading conditions after weak growth since the early summer. Sales of clothes and some household goods such as carpets were also stronger.

Bor- rowing by manufacturers was also buoyant. The upbeat picture of consumer spending was reinforced by a sur- vey yesterday for the European Commission by GfK, the polling group, which showed consumer confidence continued to recover at a fast pace this month. The unexpectedly sharp pick-up in the money supply unsettled financial markets.

UK government bonds - gats - fell half a point before recovering slightly. Futures markets are now antici- pating interest rates of about 6. Although the group aims to be- non-political. Hr Hesel tine's involvement will be seized on by Labour as evidence of a covert pro- gramme by government and business to undermine Its tax plans.

The initiative comes as Labour faces the prospect of a concerted campaign by US energy groups threatened by Its tax proposals- Mr Jim Miller, a Washington lawyer and former budget director in the Reagan administra- tion.

Together with Mr John Neill, chief executive of Uni- part, the car parts group. Some groups have already declined the invitation, including National Power, the generating company, and Hyder, the Welsh nralti- utOity. Bene- fits to the economy, custom- ers and. Five US companies have bought or are bidding for UK electricity companies. Mr Robin Cook, shadow foreign secretary, said a ref- erendum act would allow plebiscites to endorse parlia- mentary approval for big constitutional changes.

A Labour government is theoretically committed to at least five referendums. These include devolution for Scotland and Wales, an authority for London, change to the electoral sys- tem and. Votes could also be held to establish assemblies far indi- vidual English regions. In each case, a clause allowing for a referendum would have to be included. If a piece of legis- lation fell into that category, a referendum would be trig- gered by a House of Com- mons order.

Catchall rules for referen- dums are attractive as they get round accusations of governments seeking to manipulate the result. This happened during the last devolution referendums in when a simple majority was deemed insufficient Labour is considering tbe best way to implement of its referendum commitments.

Within tins total, the rise is output for export markets was even sharper - up 54 per cent, to Most industry analysts had been forecasting only about 3 per cent growth for new car sales in western Europe tins year. However, at the end of the first 10 months, they were running more than 7 per cent higher than a year ago with only France expected to show any significant sales slump before the end of the year. Produc- tion of commercial vehicles also rose sharply test month - by 33L7 per cent year-on-year.

Again tiie rise was export driven, with a leap of per cent, to The regulator would set service standards, monitor the performance of those organisations responsible for roads services and restrain unfair increases in roads charges, Professor Douglas McWilliams said in a report commis- sioned by tbe federation. At present the roads network is run as a monopoly with the government setting charges and service levels but the private finance initiative is leading to private sector operators building and managing sections of road.

Prof Keith Madelin, coauthor of the report, called for the government to distinguish between main roads - the function of which was to aid traffic movement - and local roads with the role of providing access. Ibis would allow each to be managed more effectively. Mr Andrew Foster, commission controller, said tiie report showed there was a great deal of room far improvement in the current system.

The trial judge, Mr Justice French, ruled that since the jury decided Mr Reynolds had been defamed, he was entitled to nominal damages. He may also consider whether the newspaper can successfully defend itself against the libel charge on the grounds that its article was protected by qualified privilege. White Horse, which is trying to involve private and cor- porate investors in its plans to fund the operation of new craft, believes there is sufficient demand for a Bervice car- rying 5m commuters a year to their offices in central Lon- don while proposals for celebrating the millennium at Greenwich will also boost tourist traffic.

A previous attempt to run a Thames commuter ferry service, by the RiverBus group, failed in because of the high cost of operating the boats and a shortage of suitable piers in the City. Mr Peter Lay. Bat ask anyone involved in the most ambitious fields redevelopment project undertaken by the UK off- shore oil industry and they will tell you it has been transformed in recent months. At times, up to 1, work- ers have swarmed over the platform, which lies along the demarcation, line with Norway, km north-east of companies such as British jtLerwick in the Shetland Islands.

Like the ill-fated Piper Alpha platform, which was destroyed by a series of explosions in July , cans- ing the loss of lives, the original design of Brent Charlie bad the high pres- sure oil and gas unite in the wrong place", says Mr Reilly. It will also extend the life of the Brent field to at least , about 13 years beyond its original life expectancy.

With two-thirds of the project completed. They concede that the early stages were fraught with uncertainty and big cost overruns. This was millions," says Mr Reilly. Problems came from many sources. The original engi- neering drawings proved to be unreliable guides to what had actually been built.

Work also began before the new design was complete. It was complicated by the need to maintain gas output. Eco- nomic uncertainties were also a threat. The life exten- sion of tiie fields is based on the gradual de-pressurisa- tion of the reservoir. This will release a massive 1. The uncertainty about ftature oil and gas prices is one reason why Shell is so keen to cut costs and ensure that Brent remains viable.

Another factor behind the efficiency drive is to put off the day when the company needs to think about decom- missioning the Brent plat- forms, which sit on top of huge concrete cylinders rest- ing on the sea bed. These are considered to be the most difficult type of offshore plat- form to remove.

But traditional inspection techniques, such as visual and manual searches, are tune-consuming and can be ineffective. X-ray technology is now coming to the rescue. Finnish-based Metorex International has launched Metorscan, which uses X-rays to scan very large objects in real time and onsite, at locations such as border crossings, military installations and ports of entry.

The process automatically transports objects, such as trucks as long as 25m, through a shielded inspection port The entire contents of tracks, trailers and cargo containers can be scanned tax two minutes, helping to locate suspicious items quickly and potentially reducing border delays.

Metorez International, tel Finland , fax Microgyroscope in a chip Traditional gyroscopes are often used as compasses but their application has been limited elsewhere because of their high price and cumbersome size. Korea's Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology has developed a prototype for what it claims will be the world's first vacuum-packaged microgyroscope.

A microgyroscope is a sensor that can be used to detect angular velocity in a range of directions. Samsung says the prototype heralds a revolution in gyroscope technology, as the highly-sexisitive microg y rosc o pe could be used in consumer goods such as hand-held video cameras, cars mid information sensors. Samsung Europe, tel UR 0 ; fax Sludge buster muscles in An innovative low-cost pump system to separate waste slurries Into solids and water has been launched by Zardafa Separation of the UK.

The Sludge Buster, invented by farming engineer David Hoare, is based on a peristaltic pump, which Imitates muscular contraction on the Intestines. It is designed to be cheape r than an impeller pump, need little maintenance, pump slurry without getting blocked, run dry without seizing up and start Instantly after a six-month lay-up. Georgia Institute of Technology has developed an experimental technique called Thermoire to provide real-time data about PCB warpage, helping manufacturers avoid design problems and save money.

The system is based on a special oven with a top made of glass etched with equally spaced parallel lines. A white light is shined onto the PCB, and warpage is captured digitally by measuring the pattern produced by the shadow of the lines on the PCB's surface. Georgia Institute of Technology, tel US It makes you feel very lonely.

Yet Connective Therapeutics, a California-based biotechnology company, is in «»iini«ii trials far a collagen relaxant called ConXn. If all goes well, the drug may give new hope to patients such as Shulman. Connective, like many other companies in the US, has been enticed into studying this rare condition because of advantages under the Orphan Drug Law, in place since The US experi- ence with the legislation may hold some valuable lessons for the European Commission, which is considering a similar law for Europe.

The US legislation is meant to motivate companies to study dis- orders that would otherwise not generate enough financial rewards. The law guarantees swifter and more lenient review by the Food and Drug Adminis- tration FDA for any drug addressing a rare disease, which is defined as affecting no more than , Americans. About 9 per cent of all Americans can be expected to contract a rare condi- tion in their lifetime.

From a product standpoint, the law has been fabulously success- ful. Since the act was passed, products for me disorders have been approved by the FDA, com- pared to just 10 in the previous decade. Most orphan drags in the US have been developed by small biotech- nology companies with an inter- est in studying diseases that the big companies have not made a priority.

Biotechnology groups used the easier route to market to prove their research prowess to Wall Street "You used to be able to use these drugs to showcase your technology," says Robert Shorr. Wall Street doesn't want to see just any drug; they want blockbusters.

Now, they catch diseases like chicken pox, recover, and go on with their lives. Stan- dards under the legislation are not nearly as rigorous as they are for other diseases; a typical orphan drug trial may use 20 patients or fewer. Yet researchers say coming up with even that number is not always easy. When Enzon conducted its trials for Adagen, for instance, there were just 40 to 50 identified sufferers of bubble bey disease in the world.

Compa- nies work through academics mid national foundations to help identify candidates for trials. Despite the hurdles, many com- panies have found working with rare diseases to be a surprisingly lucrative business. Bare diseases can yield hefty profits for several reasons. Dis- eases affecting about Some dis- orders. For example, treatments for malaria, leprosy and African sleeping sick- ness have all been developed under the Orphan Drug Law over the past decade.

Some companies develop the treatment for a rare disorder only to discover that the drug works on a more common ailment. Human growth hormone was originally developed by Genen- tech to treat the 10, American children with dwarfism. Later, however, it was shown to work on other growth deficiencies.

Darwin is studying Werner's, which causes premature a gi ng, to gain insights into cardiovascular dis- ease and osteoporosis. The com- pany Is not planning to seek approval under the Orphan Drug Act, however. In other cases, a single aspect of the research, such as a drug delivery mechanism, can later be applied to treatments for more common - and therefore more profitable - ailments.

To confuse the issue further, some diseases that start out as rare becoming increasingly com- mon with time. Aids, for instance, was once defined as a rare disease. Early research took place with an eye to orphan drug status, and the condition was not re-classified until Because orphan drugs some- times yield unexpectedly large profits, the FDA has received complaints that the law Is being abused by companies looking for a short cut around the FDA's normally stringent approval pro- cess.

Need we say our services, advanced technological 1 much more? However, we remain dedicated support and a highly skilled workforce. Box Riyadh , TO: 1 Samba London: Nightingale House. Samba Gtaen: Samba Rnmcr S. Rn- du Commerce. Samba Istanbul: P. Box 49, Levant. Is he opening that ciga- rette case for any reason, or is it simply nervous energy? Does he really need to comb his lank hair every couple of minutes?

By the time he delivers his terrible tan- trum and takes to smashing rather than Addling, we are secretly egging him on. Go on, get it out of your system. Donny is plotting revenge against a customer whom he thinks cheated him when buying a rare American buffalo head nickel from his shop.

He plana to steal the nickel back, a nd wants to use his young sidekick Bobby Sean Nelson in a ldnd of initia- tion rite. But Teach convinces him otherwise, and plants seeds of mistrust in Denny's mind. The two men goad, rile and bluster with each other until their already-dark moral universe becomes completely opaque. As NYPD Blue viewers will attest, Franz can achieve as much with a violent narrowing of the eyes and a nervous twist of his bulky neck as H offman can with a hangar-frill of props, and he provides a sizzling counter- point to his co-star's fidgety aggression.

Blondie is obsessed by Harlow and copies her hair colour out of a bottle; her abductee Carolyn Stilton is permanently strung out on laudanum. As always with Altman, the narrative unfolds obliquely, in this re ran a garnet a backdrop Of vibrant jazz and political chica- nary it is the eve of election day, ' The true, and truly dippy, story of Mr Reliable could surely not have taken place in any other decade. Petty criminal Wally Mel- Ksh Colin Friels is living with his girlfriend and her baby In a derelict house when a couple of local policemen turn up to ques- tion him for a minor offence.

All they have to do Is attack the house and put an end to the nonsense: but this is , the police have been under attack for their clumsy handling of Vietnam demonstrations and want to show their human side. Michael Cimino 's Sunchaser is one of those, alright.

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